Posted: Friday 12th April 2019
Stronger communities are safer communities. However, strong communities can only thrive if we continue to develop our relationships, working together as residents, local people and the police. So I was pleased to see the police and the local community coming together to celebrate the opening of a new memorial garden in Castle Park. The memorial honours the 83,000 Sikh soldiers who lost their lives in the first and second World Wars. It is of the utmost importance that we remember that in both wars, Sikh soldiers, as well as people of other faiths, stood shoulder to shoulder to form part of the British Army. The memorial is a wonderful place that the old and young can visit and remember the bravery of the Sikh soldiers.
During my most recent community day to South Gloucestershire, I met with the Aaliyah Hussain, founder of WeRise, which stands for Women Empowered Against Racism, Injustice, Sexism and Extremism. The independent organisation aims to empower Muslim women and girls to be true equals in the community. I was blown away by Aaliyah’s determination to encourage Muslim women to speak openly and address the challenges they might face. I look forward to hearing more from WeRise in the future.
We are reminded again that it’s our diversity which makes are area such a wonderful place to live, work and call home. This week Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees reassured non-UK EU citizens living in Bristol they are our friends, neighbours and colleagues. It’s important that we welcome, value and respect each other regardless of what happens with the UK’s future arrangements with the EU. Valuing everyone as individuals and harnessing difference is simply the right thing to do. We all have a responsibility to ensure that everyone feels welcome and safe to be who they are.
I really welcome the national ‘Make Yourself Heard’ campaign that aims to raise awareness of a silent 999 system. The Silent Solution system enables 999 mobile callers who are too scared to make a noise or speak to press 55 when prompted, informing police that they are in a genuine emergency. There could be occasions where speaking out loud is just not possible or would put you in more danger and that is why knowing about the 55 service is so important. We need to ensure everyone knows about the system, as in extreme situations, it could potentially save lives.
The campaign was launched during National Stalking Awareness Week. On average, around 100 incidents take place before a stalking crime is reported and we need to encourage victims to come forward and seek help from either the police or other agencies.
We need to bust the myth that stalking involves someone sitting in the bushes outside your house; stalking can include persistent and unwanted behaviour that causes the victim anxiety or fear. It’s obsessive and could take the form of social media, texting, calling or sending unwanted gifts. In the case of BBC Points West presenter Alex Lovell, she received crude and graphic greeting cards from a viewer for over six years. The letters became threatening and Alex contacted the police who offered her support and advice as well as catching the individual responsible. I applaud Alex for her courage in talking about how her experience and to raise awareness of the psychological trauma this crime causes. Stalking steals lives so please tell someone.
Finally, I’m excited to select our finalists for this year’s Be Proud Awards. The annual awards are a time to recognise and celebrate the hard-working police individuals and teams who go above and beyond to keep our communities safe. Thank you to everyone who has nominated and I look to announcing our finalists in the coming weeks.